SIDEBAR Fall 2017 - 12




By Michael Lyon, Esq.


he 2017 Leadership Academy is drawing to a close.
For its ten participants, it has been a year filled with
personal discoveries, challenging assignments, and new
opportunities. While the main goal of the Leadership Academy is
to introduce its participants to the MBA, the program-now in its
third year of existence-has grown to offer far more.
Through the completion of a year-long project that takes a
wide-ranging look at some aspect of the MBA, Leadership Academy
participants learn and practice many skills very applicable to their
professional lives. Our group was asked to examine the level of
diversity existing within the MBA and the surrounding community.
That assignment has required critical thinking, teamwork,
relationship building, and creativity. Group members and advisors
alike have challenged each other to step outside their comfort
zones, talk to others considering their feelings and thoughts on the
topic, and often engage in constructive debate. The end result of
the project will be a wide-ranging presentation on the topic to the
MBA's Board of Directors, as well as the completion of a written
report. But by the time the presentation is completed, Leadership
Academy participants will have bettered themselves and the MBA in
multiple ways.
While the group project is the hallmark of the Leadership
Academy, it is far from the only task or event that participants use
to improve themselves. The Academy begins with a focused look at
one's own aptitude for many skills that make successful leaders. It
uses in-person activities, personality assessments, and one-on-one
conversations to compel each participant to take an introspective
look at areas of strength and weakness. This has the benefit of
providing each participant with a self-evaluation that we are often
too busy to do ourselves. It strengthens each participant as a leader,
as a lawyer, and as a person. I personally have used the knowledge
gained in the program to greatly enhance my life outside the
The Leadership Academy is also a tremendous networking
opportunity. Led by Nancy Walsh-a motivated, positive, and


successful leader in her own right-participants engage in several
workshops with judges, attorneys, and past, present, and future
leaders of the MBA, and have the unique opportunity to form
personal relationships with each. They also learn valuable networking
and conversational skills that benefit them in improving formal and
informal relationships. In addition, each participant is provided
with two mentors: one a graduate of the Leadership Academy and
the second a judge from Montgomery County. All mentors strive to
ensure their mentees have access to them on an as-needed basis, and
they take pride in introducing participants to their own practices
and paths to becoming successful attorneys or judges.
To me, however, the greatest benefit of the program may be its
most unintentional: the relationships that each participant builds
with his or her classmates. While participants get to know each other
within the Academy, they are also highly motivated to get to know
them outside the MBA and often attend happy hours and events
together. Participants rely on each other for advice and counsel,
whether formal or informal, and the advice shared among group
members quickly becomes treasured. As future leaders of the MBA
and the profession in Montgomery County, these relationships can
(and have) last(ed) years beyond the program, and result in multiple
referrals, introductions, and great friendships.
As a current participant of the Leadership Academy, and a
future graduate, I wholeheartedly encourage anyone interested in
the program to apply*, or to contact any past or current member of
the program with any questions. Participants of the program will
continue to benefit from it exponentially in future years, and nearly
all sing its praises. It is a terrific addition to the MBA and one not
offered in many other bar associations throughout Pennsylvania.
Visit, or contact Nancy Walsh
(; 610-994-3663), for application
and further details.
*Applicants must have at least three years of experience as a practicing

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